Divorce and separation change the most basic routines and connections in family life.


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Everyone’s daily schedules change, relationships may feel strained, and children and parents alike may fear a loss of daily connection and relationship with one another. Even among siblings, children may have different views and concerns about the changes, which can further a sense of isolation for a child: no one understands me. Unfortunately, your kids need more emotional support and time with you when you have less energy and attention to give. It’s a collision of needs, reality, stress, and adjustment.


As coParents, you have enormous power to help your children cope with change and grieve their loss in healthy ways, even as you adjust and care for yourself. Over time, you and your coParent will be guiding your children to a new sense of routine and “normal” in their two-home family. The small things matter: the words you say, your body language, your calming gestures throughout the day. It can also be big things such as working to manage your emotions, freeing them from conflict or modeling healthy coping strategies for handling stress, strong feelings, and difficult changes.


When you emerge into a two-home family, you need time to establish new patterns. Children, in particular, need time to trust that their new sense of home and relationship with each parent is stable and secure.


Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE CO-PARENTS’ HANDBOOK.  For more information on Karen or her book, visit http://coachmediateconsult.com/co-parents-handbook/


About Karen Bonnell

Karen has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: https://www.unhookedmedia.com/#home.